Breaking it down at Beat Street West [Review]
Calgary, AB – On Aug. 31, our friends over at True Rhythm and Dragon Fli Empire hosted the championships for the Beat Street West Producer Battles. The local hip-hop heads, beat-makers and producers congregated at Dicken’s Pub to watch 20 competitors drop their craziest beats. The evening was hosted by Beni J, and featured two main events: the championship round for the first season, and the opening round for the second season of Beat Street West.
Getting a producer to leave his studio is an accomplishment in of itself. But getting a bunch of producers out and down to the bar on a Saturday night is a miracle, of sorts. Condolences to any MCs who missed the event— some serious networking went down between the beat makers and the rappers in the crowd. It was the hip-hop equivalent of eBay. But so much better. See how it all went down after the jump.
Attendees were treated to an opening performance by L Rev and Noetic. It was their first show as their newly formed Myriad duo. As a pair, these guys have killer enthusiasm. They had the crowd bumping and sweating in short order.
The set-up for the Beat Street competition is simple enough: There are four tables lined up on the stage. The competitors set up their laptops on the tables and take turns dropping beats in cypher-style battles. Each producer plays a different beat for each round. The cyphers go for a duration of three rounds.
A few old-schoolers in the crowd lamented over the days of turntables (they were obviously quite disappointed by the abundance of Toshibas and MacBooks). Fair enough. It was a little odd to have the stars of the show lurking behind their computer screens. But a dope beat is a dope beat, regardless of whether it comes from a MacBook Pro or a turntable.
There were 16 competing producers in the Season 2 opening cypher: Loophole, Cadilakid, Krippled Khemist, KazMega, Brotherhood Productions, Scott Fockers, Good Pholk, DJ Ambideckstress, Ha1Def, Tee Halidae, Nki Louise, Od, Q 82, The Dirty Sample, Naveen and Guy Bombardo. There was a hefty dose of trap rap (it was a little overpowering). But several of the competitors managed to bring their own brand of beats into the battles.
Though no one was expecting much from him, Guy Bombardo made it to the final round of the Season 2 opener. His sound was heavily influenced by drum-and-bass. But it worked. His beats had lots of build-ups and drops, as well as solid danceability. He was slotted to compete against longtime Calgary-Vancouver producer, The Dirty Sample (who also goes by Apeface and several other stage names). Bombardo brought his A-game (which included a turned up little dancehall-influenced beat), and smoked out The Dirty Sample. Bombardo is now in the competition for the second season of Beat Street West. And you should probably get in touch with him for that dancehall beat.
Finally, the anticipated championship battle went down between Makemdef, Def Chap, J Ricky, and Metawon. Def Chap (who is actually from Saskatchewan) was there, admittedly representing his wife. Which is the most adorable thing ever. He had an eclectic brand of R&B-fused hip-hop. It had soul, and it was downright funky.
J Ricky is a producing chameleon. He works with many of Calgary’s MCs and can create a beat for virtually anyone. He gets bonus points for actually getting out of his seat and dancing to his own beats. It was like an episode of Producers Gone Wild, or something.
Makemdef gave everyone a bit of a show when he whipped out a lightsaber and donned a Darth Vader mask. It was geeky. And it was awesome. Makemdef has produced for the likes of Snak the Ripper, Moka Only, New’L, and more. He’s got quite the portfolio to back up his craft.
But only one producer was given the champion title: Metawon. General consensus was that Def Chap should have taken home the winnings. His soulful style definitely differentiated him from his fellow competitors. But Metawon consistently cranked out uptempo bangers throughout the cypher. And the judges were feeling it.
While the MCs typically get to hog the spotlight, it was refreshing to have the behind-the-scenes guys and gals (ie: the producers) showcased. We’re already looking forward to the rest of Season 2. Western Canadian beat-makers: keep representing.
Written by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada
Photography by Sarah Sussman and Stefan Lewis for HipHopCanada